Archive for Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Walk Kansas encourages Douglas County residents to get outside, be active

K-State Research and Extension’s annual Walk Kansas program encourages state residents to shake off winter’s inactivity with an eight-week springtime exercise program, which can include a walking a distance equal to the 423 miles it is from the state’s eastern to western border.

K-State Research and Extension’s annual Walk Kansas program encourages state residents to shake off winter’s inactivity with an eight-week springtime exercise program, which can include a walking a distance equal to the 423 miles it is from the state’s eastern to western border.

March 11, 2014

With spring right around the corner, many people hope to get outside, be active and enjoy the warmer weather. Walk Kansas wants to help them do just that.

The statewide wellness program, which is in its 13th year, encourages Kansans to be physically active and eat a healthy diet by having them keep track of how much they walk and what they eat over the course of the eight-week challenge, which starts next Sunday and goes through May 10.

"When people are logging their minutes and fruit and vegetable consumption, they are going to be more active and make healthier food choices," said Susan Johnson, county extension agent for family and consumer sciences for K-State Research and Extension in Douglas County. "We also know it takes a minimum of eight weeks to make a behavioral change. And whenever you have a support network, you're more likely to keep on task, to keep going."

As one of its workplace wellness benefits, Frontier Farm Credit in Baldwin City offers employees $100 for participating in Walk Kansas. "Walk Kansas makes you more cognizant of what activities you're doing and what you are and aren't eating," said Sonja Hart, an employee of Frontier Farm Credit, which will have two teams participating in the program this year.

A team from Kansas University's Watson Library, the Stax Trekkers, has been taking part in Walk Kansas for about the past five years. They have previously done the program's "walk across Kansas" challenge — and have exceeded expectations, some years making it, in terms of their total mileage, to California or the Pacific Ocean.

"It gives all of us a great jump-start to being more active in the spring," said library assistant Billie Conway.

According to K-State Research and Extension, a majority of Walk Kansas participants in Douglas County reported that the program motivated them to be more physically active, eat more fruits and vegetables, not sit for extended periods of time and do strengthening exercises. Participants also reported increased energy, muscle strength, flexibility and endurance, and decreased cholesterol, blood pressure, stress and weight.

Last year, Douglas County had 115 teams, 82 of them from workplaces, with a total of 677 participants. Douglas County rivals Riley County for the most teams in the state, and local organizers hope to reach an enrollment target of 1,000 this year.

Walk Kansas registration is being accepted until 1 p.m. March 21. The individual participant fee is $7, plus $2 for each additional family member living in the household; for workplaces that pay for their employees to participate, the fee is $5. For registration information, visit douglas.ksu.edu or contact Susan Johnson (susanjohnson@ksu.edu) or Pam Heikes (pheikes@ksu.edu) at 785-843-7058.

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